Yadier Alvarez Ranked Dodgers 2017 Top Prospect By Baseball Prospectus
2016 Minor League Year In Review: Arizona League Dodgers
Baseball America

Baseball Prospectus ranked Yadier Alvarez No. 1 on their list of the top-10 Los Angeles Dodgers prospects for the 2017 season. Alvarez checked in at No. 2 on Baseball America’s ranking.

The Cuban right-hander received a $16 million signing bonus from the Dodgers in July 2015. Alvarez was sixth on Baseball Prospectus’ list last year. He began the season with the Arizona League Dodgers and concluded 2016 pitching for Low-A Great Lakes.

Alvarez finished the year with a combined 2.12 ERA, 81 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 59.1 innings pitched over 14 starts. He turns 21 years old on March 7.

The Dodgers’ confidence in Alvarez reportedly led to the club refusing to make him available in a potential Brian Dozier trade.

Appearing after Alvarez on the Baseball Prospectus top-10 list are, in order: first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, right-handed pitcher Jose De Leon, outfielder Alex Verdugo, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-hander Walker Buehler, outfielder Andrew Toles, second baseman Willie Calhoun, shortstop Gavin Lux and right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield.

In addition to Alvarez, De Leon (third), Verdugo (seventh), Yusniel Diaz (eighth), Cody Bellinger (ninth) were ranked among the Dodgers’ top-10 prospects prior to the 2016 season by Baseball Prospectus.

Bellinger, the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect this year according to Baseball America, played in 117 games last season, 114 of which were with Double-A Tulsa, and the remaining three with Triple-A Oklahoma City at the end of the year.

He also stuck with OKC through the Pacific Coast League championship. Bellinger batted .263/.359/.484 with 17 doubles, 23 home runs and 65 RBI for the Drillers. Beyond the offensive production, Bellinger proved to be versatile in the field, playing first base (81 games), left field (13), center field (13) and right field (nine).

Bellinger’s 2016 campaign came to an end with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .314/.424/.557 with eight doubles and three home runs in 20 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

De Leon missed the start of last season due to an ankle injury suffered during Spring Training. De Leon made his 2016 debut in early May but was immediately sidelined due to arm soreness. The 24-year-old found his footing upon returning from injury in June.

De Leon went 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched across 16 starts for Oklahoma City. De Leon made his Major League debut in September against the San Diego Padres, and went 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA, 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 17 innings in four starts with the Dodgers.

Verdugo spent the entirety of last season with the Drillers, marking the first time in his career he played above High-A. In 126 games, Verdugo hit .273/.336/.407 and set career highs with 13 home runs, 63 RBI and 44 walks.

Like Bellinger, Verdugo joined Oklahoma City for the PCL championship. The 20-year-old outfielder went 4-for-12 with three RBI while appearing in four games. Verdugo was then among the crop of prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League.

He struggled due to fatigue, but nonetheless was named to the Fall Stars Game. However, Verdugo did not participate as he joined the Mexican National Team for an exhibition series in Japan.

Diaz appeared in 85 games, with all but three coming with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. In those 82 contests, Diaz hit .272/.333/.418 with eight doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 54 RBI. The Cuban outfielder turned 20 years old in October.

Essentially two months after being selected No. 24 overall by the Dodgers in the 2015 Draft, Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery. He made his professional debut in July 2016 with the Loons, throwing two scoreless innings.

Buehler went on to throw three combined innings, pitching in relief for AZL and making another start with the Loons. Along with Alvarez, the Dodgers reportedly refused to include Buehler in a potential trade for Dozier.

Toles’ rise to becoming a top prospect and key contributor for the Dodgers is nothing short of amazing. He was out of baseball all of 2015 and began last season with the Quakes. Toles played his way up the organization’s farm system, and proceeded to bat .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and 16 RBI in 48 games with the Dodgers.

Toles added to his remarkable story by starting in left field against the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Calhoun hit .254/.318/.469 with 25 doubles, 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 132 games with the Drillers. He also joined OKC for the PCL championship, though only logged one at-bat, and finished the year participating in the AFL. Calhoun was named MVP of the Fall Stars Game.

Lux, the Dodgers’ first round-pick in the 2016 Draft, played for the AZL Dodgers and Ogden. He hit a combined .296/.375/.399 with 21 RBI and 41 runs scored in 56 games.

Sheffield was drafted 36th overall by the Dodgers last year. Making starts for the AZL Dodgers (one) and Loons (seven), Sheffield pitched to a combined 3.75 ERA and 1.42 WHIP with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings.